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Beta Ray Bill in Marvel Comics

In the three Thor movies we’ve seen to date, audiences have had the opportunity to see a tremendous number of popular characters from the hero’s world in the comics make their way into live action – the list including notable protagonists and antagonists alike, including Loki, Valkyrie, Hela, Malekith, Heimdall, Skurge, Odin, Jane Foster, The Warriors Three, Sif, and more. Sure, not all of the these figures were adapted in the most spectacular way, but it’s still impressive how many of them have made the leap from the page to the silver screen.

As any Thor fan will tell you, however, there is one notable character who has yet to make his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut: Beta Ray Bill. There have been hints at his existence in past projects, such as his visage appearing on the champions tower in Thor: Ragnarok, and his race, the Korbinites, cameoing in Avengers: Endgame, but the hero best known for being a non-Asgardian worthy of wielding Mjolnir has not yet been any of the movies.

Beta Ray Bill has merely been a subject of speculation to this point… which brings us to today and the news that Christian Bale may become the latest A-list star to join the cast of writer/director Taika Waititi’s upcoming Thor: Love And Thunder.

The news of this casting broke earlier today, and while the initial reports didn’t feature any clues about the character that Christian Bale might play in the film, that hasn’t stopped the online community of Marvel fans from wondering if he could possibly be the proper star to play the first live-action Beta Ray Bill. It’s basically baseless speculation – but it’s admittedly interesting baseless speculation, and while there are reasons why it may not be the answer/the best of directions for the feature, there are ways to look at the situation and see how it might work.

Let’s start with what we do know, which admittedly isn’t much. With Thor: Love And Thunder still about two years away from release, Marvel Studios hasn’t confirmed many details about the project, but we do know that it’s going to feature the return of Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, and, more importantly, that the story is going to see her become worthy of wielding Mjolnir and transform into Mighty Thor. That’s only a single piece of what will surely be a diverse narrative in the film, but it does add to the Beta Ray Bill conversation.

As noted earlier, the quality that Beta Ray Bill is most famous for (other than looking like a mutant horse) is that he lives up to the standards of using Thor’s mighty hammer as only a select few can. It makes him a compelling character in the comics – check out Walt Simonson’s run for yourself to confirm – but given what we know about Thor: Love And Thunder, it’s easy to see how his presence might clash with what we already know the film is trying to do. It’s a lot less interesting that Jane Foster can carry Mjolnir if you’re also having the story feature other heroes who can do it too.

And let’s not forget that the concept of someone other than Thor Odinson using the weapon was just seen on the big screen last year when Captain America summed the magical, lightning-powered bludgeon during the final battle against Thanos in Avengers: Endgame.

All that being said, the reveal of Beta Ray Bill could potentially work depending on how Thor: Love And Thunder explores the idea of multiple individuals having the power to carry Mjolnir. If it’s a case where it’s the Jane Foster we know from the first two Thor movies being transformed into Mighty Thor and carrying Thor Odinson’s hammer, it might not work so well if Bill happens to show up and is also worthy. But it’s a whole different game being played if Mighty Thor turns out to be a Jane Foster from a parallel timeline in the larger multiverse.

This isn’t such a crazy idea when you consider that Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness is the film coming out just a few months earlier than Thor: Love And Thunder in 2021, and the rumors that the Taika Waititi blockbuster will be titled to the alternate timeline adventures featured in the Loki Disney+ series. If the movie featured a wide variety of different versions of Thor from all around the multiverse – a la the “Thors” miniseries released by Marvel Comics during the 2015 Secret Wars crossover event – it would make all the sense in the world to have Beta Ray Bill be a part of the party.

This leaves us with the Christian Bale side of the equation. Looking at it from a strictly Hollywood business perspective, it doesn’t make a tremendous amount of sense to take an actor of Bale’s Oscar-winning caliber and hide him behind the visual effects that would be necessary to authentically bring Beta Ray Bill to life.

Of course, at the same time Christian Bale is also well known for his love of transformative performances, and he even already has some performance capture experience courtesy of working alongside Andy Serkis on 2018’s Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle and playing the panther Bagheera. Playing an alien like Beta Ray Bill and getting the chance to do something really “out there” in collaboration with Taika Waititi surprisingly makes a lot of sense on paper.

It may be a long time until we learn the identity of the character that Christian Bale may be playing in Thor: Love And Thunder – but that just gives us more time to speculate and exercise our imaginations. Do you think Bale will wind up playing Beta Ray Bill in the fourth Thor film? Or do you think there is another hero or villain for which he would be better suited? Hit the comments section with all of your thoughts, feelings and opinions on the matter, and be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for all of the latest news and updates about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.